CHICAGO — The National Labor Relations Board on Monday overturned a historic ruling that gave Northwestern University football players the go-ahead to form the nation’s first college athletes’ union, saying the prospect of union and non-union teams could throw off the competitive balance in college football.

The decision throws out a March 2014 ruling by a regional NLRB director in Chicago who said that the football players are effectively school employees and entitled to organize. Monday’s decision did not directly address the question of whether football players are employees.

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Northwestern University football players can’t unionize after all